Just Work Harder…

It was July 2015, unsure of what day exactly, I woke up in immense pain so severe I couldn’t even roll my body over to try to push myself out of bed. I grew up with subluxations in many joints of my body, sometimes almost everyday. I called off work, put my shoulder back in place and tried to rest thinking that’s all I needed.

The pain continued but I couldn’t keep calling off work. I’m not sure how many days I took off as it’s been almost ten years and I didn’t think it was necessary to keep record of anything for my memory’s sake. What I remember is that more than two days off unplanned would get me written up unless I had a doctor’s note; I had health insurance but I couldn’t afford to go see one. I didn’t have a doc I saw regularly. I never have. I was working at a job that felt like I was selling my soul to demons. I felt my ethics were questionable as I watch predatory lending happening before my eyes and I did nothing. Everyday I felt helpless, powerless, weak and evil. There’s a saying of unknown origin “the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” It’s unknown to me anyway, but I have always believed this to be true. It was the choice of feeding and housing my family or watching people get hurt and used and help that company do it.

It was beyond unsettling. I wanted so much to escape to have a job that made me feel I was honoring my personal worldview, one that didn’t make me feel like a hypocrite as well as a job where I could earn excess money to help others in need. More than anything I wanted a job where I could create. Nonetheless, I stopped calling in sick and forced myself to go in. My mother helped me get dressed, drove me to work so I didn’t have to take the bus as we both worried about the gas usage. My coworker heard me whimper in pain a few hours into the work day. I felt horrified as I was flooded with emotional flashbacks to when my father would be enraged if I was ever in pain and showed emotion about it, she asked “are you crying?” I froze, barely able to speak, my whole spine and chest became even more tight than it already was and I sat at my desk trembling, “sorry…” I mumbled as tears started welling up in my eyes.

Sometime later, it’s all a haze because I was definitely dissociating, my manager came into the room asking about my shoulder and asking why I came in telling me I should go home. All I could think was I was about to lose my job, Mom and I would end up on the street, we were already struggling for food and food stamps only gave is $50 a month because I “earned too much.” She forced me to go to urgent care driving me there herself, part of me thought it was because she cared (Little Sabi did) but most of me knew I was a liability if I stayed and she did nothing. I spent some odd amount of money I couldn’t afford. I put it on the credit card they had convinced me to get at that job that I had gotten to “build credit” to try and buy a house for Mom and I “someday.”

The physician at urgent care said I had severe damage in my shoulder that my clavicle was coming off my scapula from inflammation and they referred me to a specialist. The urgent care staff suspected it was from being over worked. Some time later I went to see the specialist, more money I could not afford.

My job had forced me to sign paperwork saying I wouldn’t sue them and they let me rest my arm and do other work for about a week or two. It might have been a month, I’m not sure. The specialist said I was “lazy” that my shoulder was in pain because I didn’t do any exercise. Mind you at that point in my life I would sometimes go out with friends to play sports and at work I was lifting 50 lbs of paper repeatedly sometimes over my head every single day I was there. They saw a chubby Latina woman and said “lazy.” That’s all… from the few weeks of rest the inflammation in the tendons surrounding my shoulder had contracted and were no longer swollen so my clavicle no longer seemed to be removed from my scapula. The intensity of the pain was still there. Somedays almost 9 years later it’s still there.

I came across this post on Insta today and it reminded me of this.

They wanted me to do physical therapy twice a week, the copay was $50 while I was making $800 a month or so, gross and paying $100 or $150 a month for my health insurance. I could no longer paint, I could no longer draw, I could no longer write by hand. My only creative outlet left was my music and even playing my guitar was getting to be painful. Even as I write this now I am in severe pain probably 8/10. My art hasn’t been the same since. I used to paint all the time. I can no longer cook a meal with out irritation. I can no longer clean my home without pain during or after or both. I was called “lazy” and not allowed to change positions.

We got behind on bills because of the financial set backs just to see what was wrong. I started having severe migraines several weeks out of the month and missing more work beyond the allotted PTO I had. During all this they changed my manager and by November 2015 after several bogus write ups including “you turned the lights off before you left” so I could work even with a migraine they fired me.

Slowly Mom and I stopped trying to connect with the spiritual community we were in and I slowly lost my faith in anything. I started making friends online and met the infamous TAM. My life would change forever within a 4 month span of time. Sometimes I wonder how my life would have been different had I gotten the health care I needed, had I had the proper nutrition, had I had a community that didn’t let me erase myself quietly fading into the shadows. No one came looking for me, no one came to feed me, no one cared to help me. I didn’t dare ask for help. I was told I didn’t work hard enough while my body was falling apart, while I was too weak and disillusioned to reach out to “friends.”

I hid myself away sometimes trying to grow my new born YouTube channel that started weeks before I was fired. A few people who knew my brother in our high school years helped me get finger printed so I could substitute teach in schools. We couldn’t afford gas, Mom didn’t know the areas well as they sent me to schools off the bus line and in areas we had never seen. I had strangers driving me home who met me on the job, scared for my life but I didn’t want to use $40 to earn $50 to use Uber. I didn’t have anyone to take me or bring me home. The school system itself left me with life long memories of children who were being failed and neglected and abused by their families, their peers, their administration and teachers. I can’t remember their names but I remember their faces forever haunted by the unknown, did that little boy escape his father, did he get bullied and gaslighted into a life in juvie, did he get taken advantage of because of his broken English? Did that little boy survive another day with his visible depression and self hatred? I didn’t know why he trusted me, why I made him feel safe and I hated that I never saw him again and that I knew that one day was probably the only relief he had that school year.

Sometimes I wake up thinking of that little boy. Sometimes I relive the day I sat in an ESE classroom completely ignorant of how to nurture children with ASD, Bipolar, ADHD, CP and countless other mental or physical disabilities yet at the same time being told I was the only “teachers aid” that the company sent that seemed competent with them. Sometimes I think of other children who begged me to come back. I questioned their motives, was a I a pushover, was it because I didn’t care about the brainwashing they were enduring, was it because I already hated the cooperate world, was it because I was seething with anger hearing teachers ridiculing them behind their backs?

My dreams of being a teacher felt shattered but I had already dedicated myself to leave something for anyone in my place. I wanted to bring light in the dark, life where there is death, love where there is indifference, hope where there is despair, truth where there are lies. I didn’t know at the time that I needed these things to bloom inside my own heart. I didn’t know how deeply the universe lived in my bones but I endured. Today I am just as scared if not more of watching my mother die hungry and in terror. I keep hoping and praying for help as it hurts my entire being to go against my conditioning and stand up and say “my life matters.”

I’ll say it for anyone reading who might not feel it, you voice matters, your light matters; I will endlessly fight for these words because I feel you, I see you, I hear you. The world needs you to fight and stay and every little bit of light that shines in the dark can bring us to better worlds and truths. You’re not alone and your story isn’t over;

Love and Peace

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